Thursday, October 31, 2019
Tasha Smith with her surviving son, Brayden Dinger, who was not in the family’s car at the time of the accident. (Courtesy photo)
(KWTX) -- A woman with close ties to Central Texas who lost three of her four children in a grinding collision with an 18-wheeler in late September in Georgia has been released from the hospital and she’s expressing her thanks in a letter to those who rallied around her and her family after the accident.
Tasha Smith, a 1996 Crawford High School graduate who was a popular stylist at Hairstyle Plus in McGregor for several years after she graduated, was the only survivor of the accident that killed her children, Bella Dinger, 12, Bostyn Dinger, 14, and Bryson Dinger, who turned 16 the day of the accident and was driving the morning it happened.
Smith had been in the hospital since recovering from injuries and subsequent surgeries, but on Wednesday she was released and wanted to make sure those who helped her make it this far felt appreciated.
“From the first minutes are this life-altering tragedy, God expressed his love and comfort toward us as family, friends and strangers rallied around us,” the letter reads.
“From Texas to Georgia and all around the world, love prayers and resources began to address needs we’d not considered and speak life into hearts overwhelmed by grief. Stories of compassion and sacrifice increased daily. Somehow, a story defined by death and loss was being redefined,” she wrote.
Central Texans were some of the first to come to the aid of the family because many of Smith’s lifelong friends and family members remain in Crawford and McGregor where her mother, Glenda Smith, is a substitute teacher and an administrative assistance at College Avenue Baptist Church.
A Facebook fundraiser started by Central Texans Reed Davidson, who has known Smith since childhood and a friend of his, Joseph Stepanski who learned of the accident at Bible study with Davidson, but has never met Smith, raised nearly $225,000.
The pair had no idea how successful their efforts would be.
“It’s amazing to see what God’s done with it,” Reed said.
In the letter Smith, her husband Justin and other family members explained their thankfulness for the efforts.
“For every single penny given to assist us, we can never repay the kindness shown to us. Our hope is that each person receives multiple blessings because by mourning with us the love of God is demonstrated,” the letter says.
A GoFund me page also raised nearly $9,000.
While hundreds of miles away from the accident scene, friends here quickly organized a prayer vigil for the injured mother at Tonkawa Falls in Crawford.
“I can't stress just how good those kids were and how great they were as parents,” said Clint Smith, Tasha Smith’s first cousin, friend and former classmate, who spent time at the hospital in Augusta with her.
Despite his age, Bryson Dinger’s organs were donated, making him one of just a few organ donors younger than 17 this year in Georgia.
"He was my little buddy and how he's a hero," Clint said about losing Bryson.
Clint said the loss hits hard to the close knit family who got together in
Crawford throughout the year and always enjoyed each other's company.
He also echoes that the outpouring of support from Central Texas, particularly Crawford and McGregor, has been unbelievable.
"Wow," he said. “It's just special."
"You don't want to have to have that support, but now that it's here and it's done, to have this is amazing."
The letter concludes with a final word of thanks.
“Please accept our ‘thank you’ and know that nothing has been in vain.”